Over the last couple of days I was involved in a comment thread for one of Aunt B.’s posts. That post itself is an offshoot of another post, one in which B. calls attention to a story where a severely injured soldier was asked by the Army to return his signing bonus due to his inability to finish his originally agreed upon term of service. It turns out that the news report B. originally referenced caused such a stir that the Army reversed course and said it was all a bureaucratic error.
Two things got my hackles up. First off, the title of the second post. I think I know what Aunt B. meant when she described the update as ‘good news for military readers,’ but I can’t help but look at the big picture. See my comment to that effect. Second, there seemed to be the assumption that the Army was telling the truth when it stated that what happened to the soldier was merely a bureaucratic error. See commenter Magniloquence’s far more eloquent description of what I was hinting at in response to that notion. For the record, I acknowledge that it may, indeed, have been purely a bureaucratic error. But I am unwilling to give a military run by the Bush administration the benefit of the doubt. Fool me once… well, you just don’t get fooled again.
So what has that to do with this early morning holiday post? It was the reactions of a couple of other commenters to my positions. One commenter labeled me as “bitter” for being unwilling to trust the Army’s statements at face value (see my comments for my reasoning, which I think is sound). Another commenter later follows this statement by me–
When I see what I have to ‘thankful’ for being put in jeopardy by bad government and public indifference, well, yeah, I get a little put out. A specially marked slot on the calendar (especially one dedicated to a holiday steeped in whitewashed, racist myth) ain’t going to change that. So I’ll be thankful that what I know and love about this country hasn’t yet been totally shitcanned by the wingnuts, the centrists, and the ’sensible’ people.
— with this statement:
To a large extent, we choose to be happy, or we choose to not be.
Now, there is a certain simplistic logic to that statement. There are always be some things over which you will have no control, and in those things you will be able to choose only how you respond. But the original events that sparked that comment thread, and the points I brought up, were not about something so intangible as ‘happiness.’ How does one qualify and quantify happiness, anyway? Furthermore, the soldier (and the news station that shed light on his story) didn’t just sit around choosing to be happy about getting fucked. They took action, and they got results.
This brings me to a larger point. If being dissatisfied with the way this country is going makes one ‘bitter,’ then does that not imply that one should be slap-happy with the way things are going? Should one ignore the evidence of our republic’s decay and forgo appropriate mitigating action in favor of childish magical thinking (“don’t worry; be happy!”)?
This, in turn, brings me back to a narrower point. Is it appropriate to celebrate a national holiday that is so steeped in noxious myth and racist whitewashing as to be laughable? That, dear reader, you must answer for yourself. In lieu of telling you how you should think, this year I offer you
Thanksgiving: A Native American View